Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer ensured that the SCIAC title would be decided
by the final game of the regular season after they held out for a hard-fought
1-0 victory against Redlands University Oct. 30. The home side took an early lead through talisman
Allie Tao PO ’14, who continued her remarkable scoring spree by notching her 10th
goal in the past five matches. The Hens’ defense put in a valiant effort to
keep a clean sheet in response to extended Redlands pressure in what was largely
an uneventful game. The win was the sixth in a row for the Sagehens and their
10th in their last 11 games, as they improved to 13-2-1 overall and 11-2 in SCIAC. Redlands fell to 6-9-3 overall and 5-6-2 in SCIAC with the loss.
Having decimated Whittier College last time on the field, P-P started off
with that same energy on Wednesday. Despite a new starting line-up due to multiple injuries, they lined up in
their preferred formation and got out of the gates quickly, taking the lead in the fifth minute. Allie Tao PO ’14, who had scored successive hat-tricks in
the past two games, finished a P-P scoring sequence yet again. Julia Dohner PO ’16 managed to
find space on the right by-line and put in a good cross toward Tao, who found
herself in plenty of space. She calmly controlled the ball before smashing a
fierce left-footed shot into the net, giving the goalkeeper no chance. Redlands
might have reasonably feared then that Tao and company might turn the game into a blowout, given recent form, but the early finish turned out to be the only goal in the game.
Redlands had a great chance to equalize only five
minutes after Tao’s goal, however. Plagued by poor defense of set pieces in the early part of the
season, a corner kick nearly proved to be the home side’s undoing yet again. A
scramble ensued before Summer Norquist managed to get a shot away that was only
partially deflected by goalkeeper Corey Goelz PO ’17. Thankfully, Goelz did not need
to worry, as Alyssa Kim PZ ’17 was present on the line to make a vital clearance.
Goelz was called into action again in the 30th minute, making a smart
save on a shot from Faith Campbell.
It seemed P-P already had one eye on the title-deciding match against California Lutheran University as they increasingly allowed the visitors to
dominate possession and take control of the match, a trend which continued into the
second half of play. Redlands kept piling on the pressure but failed to create clear-cut chances, due to a lack of creativity and a staunch defensive
performance by the Hens.
PO ’14, Taylor Forsten PO ’16, Natalie Barbaresi PO ’16 and Nadia Alaiyan PO ’17 all put in strong performances
with good defensive organization and crucial blocks. It was a testament to
their performance and the rest of the defensive back line that Goelz had to make only two saves despite Redlands controlling the run of play most of the match.
The home side did have a chance to put the game beyond doubt
when Agueda Dudley-Berrios PO ’17 was in on goal in the 80th minute.
However, opposing keeper Lexi Felix was able to put her off and make a good
save to keep Redlands’ hopes alive. Yet the comeback was not to be, as the Hens held on to
the one-goal lead to earn their fifth clean sheet of the season.
Earlier in the week, the Sagehens celebrated Senior Day in
style by routing Whittier 6-0. Despite the visitors’ offside trap strategy frustrating
P-P early on, the home side managed to out-maneuver the Poets in the 33rd
minute to take a well-deserved lead. A long ball by defender Rachel Keyser
PO ’15 proved to be Whittier’s undoing, as Alyssa Kim PZ ’17 managed to break through
the offside trap and poke the ball past the goalkeeper. The Sagehens doubled
their lead in the second half with a goal by Dudley-Berrios. The winger managed to directly curl a corner over a group
of players and into the goal off the far post to add to the collection of
amazing goals scored by P-P throughout the season. After Dohner quickly added a third goal, the match turned into the Tao show—she scored
a stupendous hat trick in a little over six minutes. Intelligently exploiting
Whittier’s offside trap for her first and third goals while capitalizing on the
goalkeeper’s mistake for her second, Tao left the visitors wondering what just hit them.
These victories set P-P up for a grand finale for
the SCIAC title against Cal Lutheran on Saturday. The Regals fell to University of La Verne on Saturday to allow the Hens back into the title race, although they also won on Wednesday
(3-0 over Chapman University) to remain tied with the Sagehens at 11-2. P-P needs a victory to seal the SCIAC title, while Cal Lutheran would bag the
title with a draw due to a better head-to-head record against the Hens thanks to a 3-2
overtime win at P-P on Oct. 9.
The battle between the two top teams for the title ensues on
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. at Cal Lutheran.